Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Such then is the character of a translation, if it may be so called, which is wanting in exactness and precision; which exhibits a vast deal of extraneous matter; and is, moreover, deficient in many of the important passages given in the text.

This therefore can offer no real ground of objection to one who labours in attempting to present the public with a more correct version ; and the more so, since Mr. Tolfrey's translation, which was never printed, but circulated in MS., is not accessible to all.

I must not, however, omit to state, that the very circumstance of Mr. Tolfrey's translation being incorrect, was an inducenient to me to weigh well the meaning of each sentence and expression before I rejected his. And had it not been for so effectual'a check, I fear I might have been driven to greater errors and inaccuracies, tban are doubtless still to be met with in the following pages.

Even with the assistance of the translation referred to, of the paraphrase or the commentary to which reference has been made, and the knowledge which I may fairly lay claim to as a native Singhalese, added to the valuable instruction of three of the best Singhalese scholars of the present day-I have in the course of translation, bad to encounter difficulties, of which an Englishman can scarcely form an adequate idea.

The text itself, given in the Appendix, has to a certain extent been redeemed by me at considerable labour and expense, and with the aid of two of the ablest pandits of the day, from the unintelligible and incorrect state to which it was found reduced by ignorant copyists.

The eagerness with which the natives have purchased the

greatest part of an impression of 400 copies of the Sidath' Sangarawa, which I lately published, and the approbation of that edition expressed by some of the ablest of the Singhalese scholars of the Southern Province, more especially by those attached to the Meeripenne Temple, induce me to believe that the text, which has now gone through a second edition, is at least purged from serious blunders. A translation, effected under such advantages, may therefore, prove to be comparatively correct; but I by no means flatter myself that my language is altogether free from errors. My readers are doubtless aware

of the difficulties attending the translation of a work from one tongue into another, and especially from an Eastern to a Western language. To be literal in the translation here presented, was next to impossible—to be altogether free, was materially to depart from the original. I have frequently met with passages expressed with such terseness and brevity, that a literal translation would render the subject perfectly ridiculous, if not unintelligible. On the one hand, I have found that a tediously long expression was capable of being rendered into English in few words; whilst on the other, a very simple Singhalese expression required the aid of considerable circumlocution in order to render it comprehensible to the English reader. I have therefore endeavoured to steer a middle course, by rendering the original as nearly as I could into its equivalent English ; sometimes amplifying or explaining the text within parentheses, and at others conveying the sense thereof in a few words. But in either case, I have experienced much difficulty in avoiding the Singhalese idiom: and I confess I have been often compelled to retain it from sheer necessity, whilst frequently I have been led into it unconsciously; thus adding one more instance to the truth of Dr. Johnson's remark, that “no book was ever turned from one language into another, without imparting something of its native idiom.". If, however, I have at all made myself intelligible in conveying the Singhalese into English, I trust I have attained the desired objcct.

A few words on the work itself, as given in the Appendix, and I shall have done.

• Preface to the Dictionary,

Like the Mugdhabòdha, which is the shortest Sanscrit Grammar known to us, the Sidath' Sangarawa is compressed into the narrowest “ compass, is exquisitely sententious, and of course exquisitely difficult, each rule requiring a comment or explanation.” Its language, though found in that purity which now no longer exists, seems nevertheless to beginners, so different from the present Singhalese, that the remark has been frequent— “ that it is written in a language different from that now spoken.” Some passages, it is true, are unintelligible to us for want of the context; as for instance, certain illustrations quoted by the Grammarian from the poem called Asakdà-vide Appendix, note at p. 180.

But this difficulty is not confined to ancient writings. The modern labours under the same disadvantage. This arises from the multiplicity of the affixes, both nominal and verbal; the curious devices of inserting, substituting, eliding, and transferring letters; the divers changes which result from their combination; the existence of a great number of synonymes * for the same object; and from the frequent adoption of the metrical style for prose ; thus interposing obstacles which are rendered the more difficult to overcome by the peculiar philosophy which the Singhalese writings convey. Meeripenne, a living author, has, in reference to the Sidath Sangarawa, composed the following stanza; and but for a. commentary which accompanies it no one would be able to decipher its meaning correctly.

wolo@co neonę o
momonçus Oosco3c8wmə
06. odsoemos sosedown on
සිස,කහරණහමකර සතරවියර

. So vast is the number of meanings which one word, nay one simple sound, conveys, that the same letter may be used to convey as many meanings as one pleases; vide the Bàrasa Poem, ante p. cviii. And 80 dumerous are the synonymes in the Singhalese, that to know them all is a work of labour all but insurmountable. The Namawalia contains a vast number of these sypo

It may be translated; “Bow to the science of Grammar, which removes mental doubts,-and which (treats) of the verb in the seventh chapter—(by whose rules) certain final letters are lopped off-and vowel sounds are (by substitution) incorporated with consonants, and which further treats of six kinds of roots that receive inflections, (and) of five long vowels."

Or thus:-"Bow to the self-denying Budha of brilliant lustre, and of five eyes; who removed the doubts of (man's) mind; performed meritorious acts; destroyed the forest of sins; preached in profitable stanzas; was not wishful of praising countries and states; was a supreme gem; and whose remains receive offerings."

The Rev. B. Clough, in the Introduction to his Dictionary, vol II. p. xvii., says _“When a language like the Singhalese has been a written medium of intercourse for almost unknown centuries, and used as a channel for the communication of knowledge on moral, religious, and scientific subjects, we expect to find it **

highly cultivated in its grammatical construction.”

The European reader in general will find this expectation, realized upon a careful perusal of the first Singhalese work here presented to the public. Considering its antiquity, and the comprehensiveness of its rules, which present the rudiments of a correct and well defined Oriental language, bearing a close resemblance to Sanscrit, Greek, Pali, and Latin, we obtain indubitable evidence of the early greatness,

nd the civilization of the Singhalese. Otherwise, it is difficult to conceive how they could have attained that perfection in their grammatical forms, which the Sidath' Sangarawa exhibits. For, says Macaulay, in his History of England —

nymes; and nothing would facilitate the study of the Singhalese classics more than a constant reference to this work. We once undertook the tasks of translating it into English, but regret to say, met with no sort of encouragement to complete it

“Rude societies have language, and often copious and energetic language; but they have no scientific Grammar, no definitions of nouns and verbs, no names for declensions moods, tenses, and voices."

I have already made an attempt to ascertain the date of the Sidath Sangarawa, vide p. clxxx. Its designation“ Sidath' Sangarawa,” may be translated into English-"A digest of first Principles,” [froin e çoi* (Singhalese) or &@osdos (Sanscrit) “A demostrated truth;" vide Amara Cosha; and w06 (Singhalese) from woroc (Sanscrit) “A compilation, an abridgement: ”-vide Amara Cosha.] Its authorship is ascribed to the uncertain source of the chief of a temple called Pathiraja' Piriwena, whom some believe to be identical with the author of the Balàwatàra; and others with the writer of the Rasawahini. Both these conjectures are entitled to considerable attention. No one can read the Balàwatara, without being particularly struck with the sameness of method in which that and the Sidath' Sangarawa are written; whilst the following passage in the Rasawahini cho 8000309 8000mcem como nosoco600587 2015 C300 w218 -"This (book called the) RASAWAHINI was composed by the same) Reverend WEDEY'HA, who had composed the Singhalese (verbal science or) Grammar in the Singhalese language:"_furnishes us with a clue to reconcile these opinions, and to fix the authorship of the Sidath' Sangarawa upon Wedey’ha. For, considering that the above writer was a great proficient in the Pali language, and the author of several Pali works, viz: the Padya-madhu, and Samantha kūta-warnanàwa; and considering also the date which tradition assigns to them, and the plan of the Baldwatàra, which the Sidath-Sangarawa closely follows, as well as the fact that there is no Singhalese Grammar in existence, or at

• 8@hoto s. (e a completed wiosos end, con tusvon) denonstrated or established conclusion, as the concurrent doctrines of all the authorities on a subject similarly interpreted. " s. a compilation and abridgment, from wouSco"-Clough.

« AnteriorContinua »